The deadline is here, but negotiations continue.
At some point today, when President Obama signs the order, the so-called sequester will take effect, and $85 billion in automatic 2013 spending cuts will begin rolling in.
Against that backdrop, Mr. Obama will meet this morning with congressional leaders at the White House to continue negotiations on a deficit reduction package that could replace the sequester, which the president has warned could cause a "tumble downward" for America's economy.
The president blasted Republicans yesterday for failing to compromise to avert the sequester, accusing them of protecting tax loopholes for the rich while allowing the burden of deficit reduction to fall on the middle class and the vulnerable. Still, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the president remains "ever hopeful" that a deal is still within reach, even at this late hour.
But House Speaker John Boehner has said he's done negotiating. The House, Boehner says, has twice passed legislation that would undo the sequester, and should not have pass a third bill before the Democrat-controlled Senate "gets off their ass and passes it once." He has also stated that Republicans will not play ball on new tax revenue, telling the president, "You got your tax increase; it's time to cut spending here in Washington."
In a statement this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., added: "We promised the American people that we would cut Washington spending, and the President signed those cuts into law. Republicans have offered the President numerous solutions, including the flexibility he needs to secure those reductions more intelligently. I'm happy to discuss other ideas to keep our commitment to reducing Washington spending at today's meeting. But there will be no last-minute, back-room deal and absolutely no agreement to increase taxes."